Release type: Joint Media Release


Better Schools: A National Plan for School Improvement


A new national school funding model and increased funding will be tied to concrete improvements in all schools under the Gillard Government’s National Plan for School Improvement, announced today in response to the Gonski Review.

The aim of these improvements is to ensure that by 2025 Australia is ranked as a top 5 country in the world for the performance of our students in Reading, Science, Mathematics, and for providing our children with a high-quality and high-equity education system.

The aim of reaching this goal by 2025 will be legislated to galvanise our nation's focus on improving schools. Australia's future prosperity depends on embracing a high-skill future and therefore depends on lifting the performance of our schools.

As part of its discussions with the states and territories and non-government school sectors, the Gillard Government will insist on improving schools by: 

  • Lifting teacher quality, including requiring more classroom experience before graduation and higher entry requirements for the teaching profession. 
  • More power for principals, including over budgets and staff selection. 
  • More information for parents through My School

Our National Plan for School Improvement will deliver change as well as more resources to every school in the country, and will be phased in over several years, as recommended by the Gonski review.

Change of this scale takes time. The six-year transition gives schools time to adjust, and ensures the increased funding can be used to deliver the concrete improvements, which we know will take time.

Over the past decade Australian students have fallen from 2nd to 7th in reading, and 5th to 13th in maths compared to students in other countries. To keep winning the economic race, we have to win the education race. Better schools will give our children the best start so that they can get highly skilled, highly paid jobs in the future.

We already have great schools and teachers in Australia, but we need to do better. 

Labor wants to make sure we have a school system that ensures all Australian children reach their full potential.

We will now start discussions with state and territory governments, and Catholic and independent schools, over the details of our plan. The Gillard Government is prepared to make a substantial investment over time to deliver this plan for better schools provided states and territories contribute their fair share and agree to the national plan for school improvement. There will be no blank cheques.

National Plan for School Improvement

Any extra funding will be tied to introducing changes that evidence shows deliver better results.

Labor’s changes will deliver:

  • A new way to fund schools that would ensure all our schools are getting the money they need to do their job.
  • Higher standards for teachers, with at least a term's classroom experience for student teachers before graduation from university, an annual performance review for every teacher, and higher entry standards - entrants to the teaching profession will be in the top 30 per cent of literacy and numeracy results.
  • Extra training for teachers in managing disruptive behaviour and dealing with bullying, so every child in the classroom gets a chance to learn in a safe environment, and a Safe School Plan for every school to prevent bullying.
  • More power for principals – like hiring staff and controlling the budget.
  • Better My School information to make sure no school falls behind, with more information for parents so they can see how their kids are doing, including on: teacher qualifications, specialist teachers, Year 12 attainment, the results of parent, teacher and student surveys, and how many students go on to further education or get a job when they leave school.
  • A School Improvement Plan for every school which will outline the steps that each school will take to improve student results
  •  Identification of struggling schools and extra help to lift their results.

A better way of funding our schools

Many schools around Australia deliver great outcomes for their students. But too many students are not achieving what they are capable of, and Australia is slipping behind its international competitors.

Schools with similar needs are getting different levels of funding and that means too many schools and students are at risk of being left behind.

Under the new plan announced today, we want to see all schools getting the funding they need to give students the education they deserve.

We want funding for each school to be based on the needs of every individual student they enrol. This would be through a new benchmark amount for every student — a new Schooling Resource Standard — based on the costs of schools that are already getting great results.

Schools with students who face additional challenges would be entitled to extra funding based on six categories: kids from low income families, Indigenous students, students with disability, kids with limited English skills, the size of the school, and those who attend rural and remote schools.

This additional money would be a permanent feature of the new funding system. It would help pay for things like teachers’ aides, specialist literacy and numeracy coaches, and special equipment. Schools would no longer need to rely on grants or short-term programs.

This extra money, called ‘loadings’, would be fully publicly funded so every student who needs more support will get it, no matter what type of school they attend.

Other features of the new school funding model include:

  • All government schools would continue to be fully publicly funded.
  • Special schools (like schools for students with disability) would also receive full public funding.
  • Like the current system, the government funding provided to non-government schools would be adjusted based on parents’ capacity to contribute.
  • Current annual indexation would be replaced by a new measure that reflects the real cost increases across all schools.
  • Every school would see its funding rise every year.

Funding would not be determined by whether a school is public or private – it would be determined by how much funding a school needs to deliver a great education.

This is not just about gifted students, nor is it just about disadvantaged students: this is about all students – from all backgrounds – getting the support they need to achieve excellent results.

Next Steps

The Government is serious about its commitment to work with the States and non-government schooling sectors on achieving these reforms.

The Prime Minister will begin meeting each of the Premiers and Chief Ministers to discuss school improvement and funding reform.

A special subcommittee of all Australian Education Ministers will be established to drive this reform, and the Government will also meet with representatives of independent and Catholic schools.

Precise funding details will be worked through in discussion with states and territories and any extra Commonwealth funding will be contingent upon the states signing up to these new arrangements.

As a first step, the Gillard Government will introduce legislation into the Parliament by the end of 2012 that will enshrine the core principles of our National Plan for School Improvement and a new approach to funding. As discussions progress the legislation will be updated to include the specific settings of the funding model agreed.

The Government thanks the members of the review panel for their work, which will make a difference to Australia’s economy and education for decades to come.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to improve our schools and give every student the opportunities they deserve. We owe it to Australia’s children – and to the future of the country - to give them the best schools we possibly can.